Comic Picks By The Glick

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March 24, 2013

This is a review of vol. 24 of “Blade of the Immortal.”  The reason the title isn’t listed above is because I wanted to write, “The latest volume of ‘Blade of the Immortal’ is so goddamn good that you need to stop reading this now and go out and buy it!” (Which I’ll admit could also be interpreted as, “Come see Glick’s latest rant about the series he loves more than any other on the market right now!”)  Podbean won’t let you write that much in the title box, unfortunately.  But it’s all true!  After the cliffhanger from the previous volume, things ramp up in spectacular fashion as female shinobi Meguro and Tampopo arrive just in time to turn the tide in the battle against Shira.  After volumes serving as punchlines and eye candy, the two of them finally prove their worth in the aid they offer to our protagonists.  Well, Meguro really does at any rate as she goes toe-to-toe with Shira in a blindingly fast series of attacks that show you why she was recruited for the new Mugai-ryu in the first place.

However, the fight here was always going to come down to Manji vs. Shira and it does not disappoint.  From the former’s stunning entry back into the fight to the sweet, sweet brutality inflicted on the latter, this ranks as one of the most intense, graphic and visceral battles in a series that is chock full of them.  Yes, I realize that the unmitigated graphic violence contained in this volume may be a turn-off for some readers, but mangaka Hiroaki Samura administers it with an artistry and ingenuity that elevates it above mere exploitation.  One only needs to look at the aftermath of the clash to see how everyone deals with young Renzo, who owes much of his current suffering to Rin and Manji’s well-intentioned deception so many volumes ago, who now has the opportunity to get the vengeance he feels he is entitled to.

So with this, it’s clear that “Blade of the Immortal” will not be winding down quietly as it comes to its conclusion in three (maybe four) volumes.  Though one long-standing plot thread is resolved here, it looks as if everything will be converging on Anotsu as all of the major players in this title have some kind of business that they need to hash out with him.  Given what I’ve read here, it should be an encounter for the ages in terms of the clashes between weapons and minds that are being set up here.  Also, NO emo samurai are on hand to spoil the buildup.  As the series has issued its final volume, I can only hope that Dark Horse takes it as a sign to get the remaining volumes out in a timely manner.  Much as I would like to read them now, I think they owe it to its original translator to make sure its localization continues to be the best on the market.

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